# fear and terror / superstition / Iran / demons / possession / religion / jar / exorcist / superstitious community / Polish premiere
horror / drama / Iran / 2021 / 1h 33min
The greatest evil? An empty jar and a handful of superstitions
‘Zalava’ is a story set in the times of the Iranian Revolution. It depicts a small Kurdish village lying on the outskirts of civilization, whose inhabitants face demons on a daily basis. Any one of them may become possessed. There are two cures for demonic presence: shooting a possessed person in the lower part of the body, which usually leads to death. The second option is to summon Amardan, a local exorcist, a former builder treated by the Zalavanians as chosen by God. The only salvation in the fight against demons. Masoud Ahmadi, a gendarmerie sergeant sent to Zalava, confiscates weaponry in an effort to prevent bloodshed, as he remains skeptical of Amardan’s activities. He treats superstition with contempt, is rational and sensible. However, he must verify all his beliefs when one of the demons is allegedly trapped by Amardan in a jar. The jar causes increasing unease among the inhabitants of the village and becomes a symbol of overwhelming fear. ‘Zalava’ is an Iranian horror film that leaves you shaking. Arsalan Amiri’s debut, awarded at the Venice Festival, shows how much evil can be caused because of superstitions. It’s an intelligent horror that skillfully creates tension and uses the rules of the genre to tell a shocking story about a culture in which knowledge seems unnecessary because it’s displaced by blind faith.
‘Zalava’ builds up suspense from the very first scene. The fear virtually entirely derives from the invisible and unnamed. The film neatly demonstrates the mechanisms of mass hysteria, and at the same time portrays a moving love story, which is slowly developing in the background. The part of skeptical sergeant was given to Navid Pourfaraj, a three-time nominee for the Iranian acting award at the Fajr Film Festival. The great Pouria Rahimi Sam keeps up with him as Amardan, who may or may not be a crook. However, he evidently benefits from the superstitions Zalava abounds with.
director: Arsalan Amiri
screenplay: Arsalan Amiri, Tahmineh Bahramalian, Ida Panahandeh
cast: Navid Pourfaraj, Pouria Rahimi Sam, Hoda Zeinolabedin
editing: Emad Khodabakhsh
music: Ram in Kousha
language: Kurdish, Persian